Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Britich Columbia Rejects Electoral Reform

In yesterday's election the people of British Columbia were asked to choose between the old first-past-the post electoral system and a new single transferable vote system. The referendum question was ...
Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly? The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post) or the single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform.
Up until the beginning of May, it was widely anticipated that more than 60% would vote for STV, thus ensuring that a fair electoral system would become law in British Columbia.

The actual result was a disaster for electoral reform. Only 39% of the voters favored STV while 61% voted to retain the old unfair first-past-the-post system [Elections BC].

This is a major defeat. It will make it much more difficult to get electoral reform passed in Ontario or any other province. As usual, North Americans are much more conservative than the civilized world.


  1. Ugh. I checked my district and we were one of the 39%ers. I may not be that in touch with the wider world but this still surprises me. What happened?

  2. Voters didn't understand the issue by its technical merits, and instead voted based on fear and confusion.

    They were not well informed by newspapers, who consciously didn't bother to explain in full detail how it actually worked, and instead focussed on the supposed plusses and minusses of its overall effects, largely repeating opinions uncorrupted by the need to argue them with facts and evidence. For instance, that voters would be confused, that it would lead to minority parliaments, and that ridings would be too big, and that your representative may live too far away from you.

    There was little reference in the press to the publications or workings of the citizens assembly on electoral reform, which lead them to propose STV, twice. The disdain for this group by the press is utterly inexusable.

    I'm for STV. I'd accept it being defeated. But STV was defeated clearly for the wrong reasons: lack of understanding.

  3. One other factor may have been the public forgetting why this was a good idea. In the election prior to the 1st referendum, the liberals had lost in seats, but had achieved a higher percentage of the popular vote.
    A lot of people clearly saw that this was strange, and supported change. but now 4-5 more years have passed, and the memories start to fade...